Published on BCBusiness.ca by Kristen Hilderman on July 15, 2014
Coastal Contacts founder joins new consolidated online footwear retailer as chair and CEO
Founder and former CEO of Coastal Contacts Inc. Roger Hardy announced today that his company, Hardy Capital Corp., along with a prominent group of Vancouver investors, has acquired 100 per cent of two online shoe retailers, Vancouver-based ShoeMe.ca and Seattle-based OnlineShoes.com, for an undisclosed amount.
Hardy will be taking on the role of chair and CEO, and will be consolidating the two businesses, creating Canada’s largest online footwear company, which will be headquartered in Vancouver. “It’s likely that there will be two unique brands for the foreseeable future, and both will operate with strong, independent teams, but we’ll look to leverage some synergies where we can,” says Hardy. “The proximity [to Seattle] makes it easy to go back and forth with both teams. It’s pretty exciting to get all the members of the great Seattle team and have them influence this younger, fast-growing group up in Vancouver.”
OnlineShoes.com was the first online footwear retailer in the U.S., and Hardy says the business has done more than a billion dollars in cumulative sales since its 1996 launch. “It’s been 100 per cent owned by the founder [Dan Gerler] and he’s kind of grown it himself,” he says. “It’s a very strong brand.”
Gerler will be stepping down from his CEO post and remaining with the company in an advisory role.
Sean Clark, founder and CEO of ShoeMe.ca, will become president of the merged entity's Canadian operations, but Hardy says Clark’s focus will mostly remain the same. “I think he’s got a big, interesting job ahead. He’s been focused on growth and focused on surrounding himself with a great team and building a great culture, building a really fast-growing and -learning organization,” says Hardy. “He’s really going to be, from a day-to-day standpoint, the horsepower behind growing that Canadian business.”
“Part of our success [at Coastal] was obviously international expansion and growth, so we had great success with our business model growing our international business and that’ll be an area of focus,” he says of his new venture. “We had great success developing and building our own brands—our Derek Cardigan line is one of the most-sold glasses lines in Canada. Derek Cardigan was kind of a ‘geek chic’ look that became trendy or popular in the last couple of years and I think we’ll be looking for similar fast-growing trends to partake in.”
In his new position, Hardy says he’s tasked with setting the vision and mission for the company, and then ensuring they have the right people to execute the plan. Clark spoke to BCBusiness in early June about three new appointments to ShoeMe’s executive team
, bringing in talent from Coastal Contacts, Zappos and YYoga. Now, Hardy confirms that ShoeMe has added two more former Coastal employees: Dominic Uy, who will join as ShoeMe's CTO; and Nick Bozikis, who will join as ShoeMe's CFO. “I think we called it putting the band back together,” Hardy says with a laugh.
The consolidated business will have more than 250 employees across North America with combined annual revenues of approximately $200 million.
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